28 January 2010

The Michael Gill Controversy Now Getting Personal

Note: I don't mean personal with me:)

This week, Ray Paulick has devoted not one, not two, not three, but four blog posts on the Michael Gill controversy, where the jockeys at Penn banded together and refused to ride in any races that have a Gill entry in it because of safety concerns. This has lead to Penn temporarily? banning Gill horses from even being entered.

Paulick's first post was on the jockey's decision. He was the first horse racing site to have the balls to report the story. The attention it received (187 comments as of this writing) prompted all the other major outlets to write a story on it to, despite the fact, the industry frowns upon these type of stories getting out in the public domain.

The second post was an interview with Gill, where Gill defends himself.

The third post was an interview with Maggi Moss, where Moss sends a message to Gill; change the way you do things, or get out of the game.

And the newest entry has to do with a comment Michael Gill made on one of the above posts, where Gill is threatening to sue 5 people in particular, including Ray Paulick. Gill wrote:

“This is my first email response ever. I am the owner of these horses not the trainer. Every one of my trainers has strict instructions that if a horse is sore, you don’t run that horse and there is not a trainer that has worked for me that will dispute that by name. I give away more horses than anyone in this industry and I have a bill of sale for one dollar for each and everyone. Many of these horses are still running but not for me.

“None of my horses have tested positive for anything. So when you see the comments on these blogs they are coming from trainers like Mr. Guilforte that won’t tell you that I claim a bunch of his horses and he cries each and every time and I mean big tears, Maggie Moss who has horses running in Penn now an has Stephanie Beatie to claim horses, and the other bloggers? Jockeys I don’t use. So when you win $3 million dollars out of a little track in Western Pennsylvania their motives are pretty clear. The other group of bloggers hates horse racing all together, and jump on every opportunity to give me a black eye. Every one of these horses were bread to race, otherwise they would not be here and trust me they do not come cheap.

“I want all you bloggers to pay attention because class is in session: Gillforte, Maggie Moss, Mr Clifton, Ray Paulick, pay particular attention. Have you all heard of liable? And antitrust? If you think I am kidding about suing you, you haven’t been paying attention. I have never made a threat and not followed through. I have a case in the Supreme Court right now. I am going to have horse racing as my business, and my hobby will be punishing each and every one of you pinheads, so happy blogging you have my attention.”

For the record, here is my stance on the issue: Michael Gill is doing things by the rules. In horse racing, unfortunately, not getting caught (whether Gill is doing illegal things) is part of today's game. So far, there is no real evidence that has been reported to prove Gill is guilty of violating the laws of racing (this could change any moment, just keep reading). This doesn't mean that Gill has the right to race though. Part of the rules of racing is that a track has the power to bar a person for sneezing.

It is the rules of racing that need to change so that the perception that the Michael Gill's bring with them, are forced to change. For instance, there is no law that states that an owner or trainer have to be an ethical or moral human being. Racing jurisdictions have to make laws so that owners and trainers behave morally and ethically as much as possible.

In a nutshell, the inferences being made against Gill are the following:

* His horses breakdown on track at a much higher rate than the industry average (this is the stated reason for the jockey protest).

Horse racing keeps no stats on trainer's breakdowns, and so far I've read only allegations that Gill horse breakdown at a higher rate, something Gill denies. He does run a lot of horses, so lets see some stats. Gill infers that the fact that he uses only two jockeys to win all the races at Penn has made the rest of the colony there jealous and envious and out to get him.

* The reason these horses breakdown so much while still passing the vet inspections is because of high blocking, and/or use of banned substances like cobra, toad, or snail venom, and/or shock wave therapy is being performed on the Gill runners.

First off, it hasn't been proven that Gill's horses breakdown on track at a higher than average rate. Secondly, since the industry doesn't test for any of the above alleged violations, unless Gill's training outfit is caught doing any of it, or if Gill staff members admit doing it, it is all a guessing game. Gill's comment about positives is really meaningless in this instance.

* Gill's horses disappear off the map at an alarming rate. He sells really sore horses to killers.

Gill has admitted to "giving away" over 200 horses recently (without evidence as to where the gelding go). Again, industry stats are needed when it comes to low claimers whose careers end in a year and compare them to how many Gill is forced to retire. As for selling them to killers, Gill states he gets them good homes. I think anyone who has tried to give away one injured horse away may have a big problem with Gill giving away 200 horses. Now, one has to ask, would some of these 200 horses not have had their careers ended as quickly if Gill was not in the game? And what would the fate of the horses who would have had their career ended be if Gill was not in the game? Lets remember, ownership is on the decline, and Gill does own a lot of horses. Someone would have to own the horses Gill owns now, if Gill was gone.

So what can racing do to correct the problem of bad perception Michael Gill brings with him?

1. Make it a rule that horses have to be on track 4-5 days prior to the day they race. On track means any track, but preferably the track they are entered at. This will cut down drastically the possible use of venom, high blocking, and shock wave therapy. In the case of track to track shipping, have enforcement follow the odd shipper to make sure no pit stops are being made along the way.

Yes, I know this isn't going to be popular with all horsemen, including the honest ones who say it is sometimes cheaper to run off the farm. Too bad.

Unfortunately, this rule can't be used at most harness racing tracks because horses are rarely stabled on track to begin with. I don't have an answer for this.

2. Stiffer fines and penalties for using banned substances or procedures. I'm talking years, not days. Might help the harness industry too.

3. Thoroughbreds whose career have ended and are sold by licensed owners or trainers should go into a national database, including a copy of the bill of sale. The buyer must provide an actual address, social insurance or social security number, and include their intention of what they are going to do with the animal. If this makes it a little more difficult to sell thoroughbreds, so be it, maybe outfits will think twice about over training or running them into the ground.

Now for the juicy stuff.
In horse racing, it is beyond rare for trainers and owners to get intimate and personal regarding the activities that go in the backside. I don't remember ever reading a tell all book by a former trainer. There is some sort of code that goes on in the backstretch. At least there WAS some sort of code. Trainers going after trainers publicly is not something you see every day.

Two people who have identified themselves are Layne Giliforte, who posts under Startin Small, and Tony Adamo's (Gill's main trainer) wife Sheryl.

Get some popcorn. Here are some of the comments and allegations (not corrected for spelling):

anthony (not Adamo, obviously) Says:
January 25th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

A comment on bottom claimers!! If and i am a trainer of cheaper and not so cheap horses.. its not true when u drug block tap and have drugs such has snail venom which gill was caught using about two months ago at penn national but the media made sure no public knew what was going on !! Gills van entered penn national with snail venom trainer anthony adamo and van driver bothe caught with the shit in there hands and ran! It’s gills truck and trailer reg in his name but no one gets punished !! The van driver gets ruled off what about adamo or gill ohhh thats right MONEY TALK IN THIS sport.. it sucks cause it used to be the sport of kings now it s the sport of drugs and money!! So it don’t matter what claimers u have it matters on the drugs u use to break them down!!

Startin' Small Says:
January 25th, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Gill is an idiot! Outraged.. who really cares. He’s a horse killer and if he’s allowed to continue racing anywhere, he will undoubtedly be the cause of a death of a human life. His whole outfit is a tragedy waiting to happen. He hires idiots that he can control… trainers like Delahoussaye that are barred from multiple jurisdictions… Adamo who has never been successful training horses anywhere and was actually fired by Gill a few years ago when he went an impressive 3 for 100 (close estimate). The only reason he dominates Penn by wins is because no other owner has 150 horses that predominantly run at Penn. If only the truth were known about where approximately 100 horses have gone to over the past year, that have actually vanished from racing. This man is an arrogant, egotistical horse killer and should be barred from this sport. Truth be told, I think he would end up with criminal charges if a lot of things he is probably hiding come to be public knowledge.

crybaby Says:
January 25th, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I read a lot of sour grapes here. I would guess that a large number of the above posters have horses they trained or owned claimed by Gill. I got a very simple suggestion, DON’T run your horses for a claiming price if you don’t want them claimed. I am not defending the breakdowns, but defending the claiming game. As for the Jockeys, I would have to think there would be an Antitrust lawsuit against them. As long as a racetrack takes their entries, they should be allowed to run. What they did the other night was nothing short of race fixing. What if next year when Rachel Alexandra is 1-9 the other riders don’t want to get beat by her and refuse to ride? They need to realize that they don’t make the rules and it is not up to them to enforce them. Another thing, how many of the jockeys in the room were fired by Gill earlier this year or previous years or flat out not just good enough to ride for him. So what do they have to loose by eliminating an owner that they have no chance to ride for. This is race fixing. So as long as he is in good standing by the state of PA and can find a jockey willing to ride and pass pre race vet exams, should be allowed to participate. Layne (Starting Small) I understand how upset you are for loosing so many horses to Gill that didn’t breakdown and continue to win weekly. Shouldn’t play the claiming game. Getting Smaller, how about getting over it.

Startin' Small Says:
January 25th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I play the claiming game perfectly…. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It is my job to lose horses and I can guarantee one thing and that is the horses are very well cared for and in good order when I lose them. It doesn’t matter to me or my owners that any of them win. Get your facts straight…. yes, some continue to win but most win cheap and note that Gill has probably taken 35-40 horses off me alone over the past year and a half and has lost a lot of money doing so and more importantly has put a lot of money in my client’s accounts. And FACT…. the horses he is winning with are coming back with positive tests that the Pa. commission is currently unable to enforce so if cheating to win is ethical in your books crybaby than you belong on his bandwagon. If all you get out of the previous 117 posts is that people are sour grapes because he claims horses than you have obviously missed the point. If you can defend and support a person that hires a discount trainer so that he can pull their strings and use them as scapegoats and you think that the tremendous number of breakdowns over the past year is a good thing as well as the 6 jockeys that have been put in the hospital is a good thing, than I guess that everyone writing to this post and standing behind the jockeys wanting to protect their safety are all wrong.

Startin' Small Says:
January 25th, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Come on everyone, we are letting Crybaby get us all side tracked from the real issue that began this article. I am going to venture a guess that Crybaby is Anthony Adamo (just a guess but the way he talks he is definitely a Gill employee). And the fact that he knows my business name as Startin’ Small and has refuted towards a couple trainers above. And has threatened with slander lawsuits.. why would anyone other than an affiliate of Gill’s be so concerned.
Back to the point, the riders made a stand on Saturday against an operation that has seriously injured a couple of their fellow riders. We, as horse people, instead of getting in debates with Gill’s employees, need to also get together in some way and make a stand against him as well. It is our horses, our livelihood and the families of many jockeys that are going to suffer most if Michael Gill is continued to carry on business in horse racing. Call it a business if you want and think that you are justifying his methods but I do not know any business in the world that would allow this misconduct to continue and the business allowed to keep operating.

Startin' Small Says:
January 25th, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I do have a personal agenda but what about the other 150 + posts here? Do they all have a personal agenda?
This article, these reactions and the actions of the jockeys Saturday night all stem from something that is very real and true.
And all the other forums you are sitting back reading, why do they exist?? Do they exist because Mike Gill claimed off every person that has posted a comment on them. No, because not enough action has been taken to protect horse racing and it is the only means for people to speak out and at least feel like we are being heard. (and obviously we are, or you wouldn’t be rebutting).
You would never employ me? Oh darn

Equine Avenger Says:
January 26th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

“Ray…great job on this. As usual, the DRF and Blood-Horse were asleep at the wheel while this was going on.”

Ray is not the first to break this news. Former employees and other horseman have been posting wrong doings for well over a year now. It’s just that nobody was listening outside those horseman who agree.

Also i’m sure if someone was to interview folks that ship in their horses on days Gill has horses running, you’d be shocked at the stories some of them could tell.
For example, about a month ago, Adamo had horses in the first and third race at Penn. The groom ran the horse in the first race, brought the horse back to the recieving barn, gave the horse 3 or 4 rounds and stuck him straight into the stall still huffing and puffing. Steam was still coming off the horse. Was no where near cooled out. Was dying for water, and hadn’t even been hosed off.

The reason why? Because the groom had to run vetrap for the horse in the 3rd race and get him bridled up and ready to go up. The clowns are too cheap to hire enough help. Wont even pay $20 for a hotwalker. This is how the whole operation runs.

Startin' Small Says:
January 26th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Reading this article makes this man sound more pathetic than he is already perceived to be. “What have I done that’s so wrong?”??? How can someone say that that has been associated with so many breakdowns and even worse, 6 injured jockeys. Has he really been watching every single race that his horses run in?
What has not been mentioned is the horses that break down in the morning also. I wrote down all the horses he claimed from me over the past 1 1/2 years (24).. 2 of them broke down during the races and another 2 broke legs and were put down in the morning. Of the other 20 I have listed, another 10 have disappeared from racing.
I think it is great that he is opening up his farm for anyone to come and see the horses there…. after he admittedly got rid of 20 horses the past 30 days. I would think it is the 20 horses that people here are concerned about and what condition they were in and where did they end up???
But I have to say this man is winning me over, it touched my heart to hear that he is treating all his horses for EPM. This is very impressive Dr. Gill that you say 80% of horses have EPM and that you are addressing this. Considering that over 80% of horses have ulcers, are you treating them with Gastroguard? That would be so honorable.
Can you tell us what your trainers are addressing when they drench all your runners with “loads of DMSO”?

Startin' Small Says:
January 26th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

No horse is 100 % sound Tony but YES, all my runners are very well looked after and in perfect order when they run or they WILL NOT race. I personally gave away 5 of my own horses to good homes (and I can give names and addresses where they all are). I didn’t even get the dollar for them, what a horrible business person I am. A large number of other horses were sent home to be retired by their respective owners.
You keep begging for people to get off the personal agendas, it’s not going to happen. Everyone has their axe to grind and it is for a reason but the fact of the matter is that what ever the reason people are speaking up against the entire Gill operation is, they are right and their comments are completely justified and for the most part, probably very accurate. This “thread” is for comments and feed back and that is what everyone here is contributing.
I really don’t think you want the truth to come out about the real number of cumulative breakdowns at Penn from your Mike Gill operation. FACT: Gill has had a tremendous number of horses put down on the track during the races… FACT: Mike Gill has had a number of horses break down in the mornings at Penn… FACT: Gill has had a number of breakdowns that have only pulled up instead of fall, than go back to the backside to be euthanized. Do you really want ALL numbers to come out? And add on top of that, the number of horses that have been given away and/or disappeared.
Why would you even think your boss wouldn’t be the target of such scrutiny and outrage from people, personal agenda or not?
He has been the bully in the playground for the past couple years and has made people hate them. And the beauty of that is that people can only take so much before they fight back. And while they are waiting to fight back, we gather as much information as we can because we know that the devil always gets his due. And now, I hope and pray that this is the time that we all get our chance to see justice take place.

Sheryl Adamo Says:
January 26th, 2010 at 6:15 pm

I am the wife of Anthony Adamo and last night we were called by a friend to look up this sight to see the personal attacks that have been orchestrated towards my husband and the Gill organization. To a handful of people, please stop posting things on web sights that you know nothing about. There are so many untruths that have been said about this operation and I want to clear some of them up.
I live here on Elk Creek Ranch and my kidsand I have spent alot of time at the barn with these horses and i can give you some insight on how the barn is run.

Firstly, there is no-magic pre-race,no wonder block and no abnormal activity done to these horses . Cole Norman is in charge of their traing,they are trained bathed, walked,fed and vetted like any other race horse.Before entry they are evalluated and then again before they load the van for the races.In my husbands care, no horse is sent to the races with the intention of them breaking down.I am a horse lover before I am a racing fan so i am not defending the recent outcome of some of these horses-it was awful but what i can say is that these breakdowns are not without regret or sorrow.
Secondly and most importantly to me ,after today I hope to never have to read about any horse in our care that was sold for meat because that is simplly not true.We have given horses away for riding,jumpers,breeding,studs and some even went to their original breeders,for instance white buck just went to retire in Florida.When we give these horses away we can only rely that what people say they are going to do with them is the truth.This past season we gave a horse away to his breeder.He was sore.That horse ran 3 weeks later and to no surprise was no factor.It just goes to show that not everybody is upfront with us. We do surrender their papers when they leave us just to ensure that they do not go for meat.We have turned out and I personally feed some of these layups until we can find them a home.Infact I want to add this,Iwas the one who for 3 months fed a mare and her foal,a 2 year old and another lay up horse of a previous trainer who abandomed them at the farm when they were let go.If it wasn’t for me I can not say how they would ended up.
Thirdly, All the allegations about Mike gill ,not because he employs my husband but because i just don’t get it. He does not live here ,so he has to entrust his trainers to properly care for these animals.Is he a hard nose? absolutely,I will not paint a picture of a harmonious relationship between owner and trainer.The two have their differences.He likes to win and when he is favorite and doesn’t he wants an explanation.Fair enough. Never and I stress Never has he suggested or implemented any tactics for these trainers to run unsafe horses. Again that is trainer resposibility.
I get that he is unliked because of his aggressive claiming but lets be honest he’s claiming some of these”bad ‘ horses from our fellow trainers and you guys are all laughing all the way to the bank. Everybody is responsible for sore horses not just one organization.This problem has not started with Mike and nor will it end with him.
Let’s look at another perspective of Gill racing,he employs alot of people from the hot walker,rider,groom,vet,feed,hay straw and supplies.He helps to keep the horse world employed.He is ahealthy economical part of this industry,especially in times when jobs are hard to come by.
A note to the people of pen national,If mike were to leave the level of competion is not going to change.Mike is considered an invader, invaders are not going away not with the purse structure as it is. so if the people of pen want to keep things as they were then get rid of the casino and decrease your purse structure.

I want to address one last issue, Lane Giliforte aka Startin Small Stable has run a personal campain against this operation and my husband.The amount of lies that he continues to write are so absurd that at times it is comical.I want the public to know that Lane has his own agends regarding the serious issues at hand.At the risk of speculating and spreading a rumour,I feel that he is rejoicing at recent injuries of horses and riders because it gives leverage for his cause. Before this issue this man has threatened,and harrassed my husband with terrible,relentless e-mails to the extent that Tony went to the stewards.we were told to go to the police which unfortunately we decided not to.This is all because Mike claimed a number of his horses.When you want to keep impressive stats and run horses at respectably prices you risk losing them.You asked tony as a friend to speak to mike about it and when it did not go your way you turned on him and vowed to get him back.Specifically you threatened that Mike took away your livelyhood and that Mike was “too big” to get to so you would go after him.Mike did not discuss your claims withTony nor did he ask him to do anyl claiming from him. Talk about what kind of people we need in this industry-Let’s look at Starting Small Stables.

I realize that i have steered away from the issue at hand and that is the safety of horse and rider. I will not defend that but i will defend my husband as a person and a trainer.These are real people you are bashing.Tony is a loving husband,father and friend . When we looked up some numbers out of 223 starts at pen, there has been 3 catastrophic injuries to his horses , some pull ups have not been due to injury. It’s not OK but certainly those numbers do not set him apart from other trainers who are dealing with large number of starts.

Something has gone wrong with the number of injuries at this track and i don’t have an answer for it There definately has been an oversight with the horses stabled at penn but that has been addressed.We can not go backwards but only forward and work harder and be more cautious in this game.

Startin' Small Says:
January 26th, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Thanks Sheryl,
Your article sounds as ridiculous as Mike Gill’s. A whole lot of jibber trying to cover the truth and hide the facts.
Who cares about past conversations I had with Tony and text messages. You’re off topic.
But since you asked: STARTIN’ SMALL has won 6 training titles, set numerous records, has trained for some of the most respected and prominent owners in racing and has won over 800 races. Thanks for the publicity. In the words of Tim Ryan on NFL radio, “Let’s talk about it”
No, let’s not ! Let’s get back to the concern at hand.
Get tied on people. There are some GREAT things coming out in the next few days.

don Says:
January 27th, 2010 at 5:22 pm

my experience with the gill/adamo circus was on october 31,2009 after the 4th race at philadelphia park. while in the receiving barn the horse Master of Disaster had just come back from his race and he started to “tie up and cramp” in his rear end while the groom was cooling him out.
instead of calling the trainer (adamo) or a veternarian and stop walking the horse, the groom tried to force the horse to walk and ultimately Master of Disater fell on the pavement outside of the barn.
while everyone was trying to communicate to the groom to call a vet, the trainer, etc. the groom proceeded to try and drag the horse on the pavement to get him on his feet , scraping his front and back legs to the point of blood before the horse finally got his bearings to get up.
as disturbing as this sight was, more disturbing was the two grooms who did not understand english or have the experience of what to do when a horse “ties up” were laughing at the whole ordeal. finally a vet arrived and administered some meds to comfort the horse.
this is a brief summary and i left out some other details but the bottom line and questions i have are:
1. when you are the leading owner in the country, dont you hire qualified people to care for your investments because these two so called grooms had no clue what was going on with the horse and adamo was nowhere to be found.
2. if you are going to hire grooms that are not qualified to be grooms wouldn`t you think you would make sure they knew how to speak english and be able to contact the trainer or a vet.

s Adamo Says:
January 27th, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Does any one listen, this is relentless. Some horses went for riding horses,jumpers,breeding and studs. Others are been found still running.They aren’t broke down horses just no longer competitive at this track.Isn’t that being responsible,not running horses where they have no chance to be competitive. The only purpose of the $1 is show transfer of ownership.The ones still running are in Iowa,texas, mountainer and beulah. Some bloggers have alot of time on their hands so I invite you to look them up. I’m sure there is going to be some back lash on this blog, so be it. The only thing I continue to be concerned about is this farm did not send horses for meat.

Startin' Small Says:
January 27th, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Wow, very impressive Mr. Gill,
It must be nice to have so much money and get away with all that you have gotten away with and continue to do so. And than threaten people that speak the truth against your actions.
For the record, I fully admit that there were times I was very ticked off about your persistent attacks on my business and the position you put me and my family in. You almost put me out of business and I have a family to support and I believe that would make anyone concerned. However, on the other hand, I was instructed to lose the horses that I had when I relocated to Penn from Fair Hill. Penn National being the choice because of you, it was known that you would make this goal achievable. In doing so, I knew that if I talked to Tony and slammed you with names and criticism and asked him to tell you to back off that you would keep coming. Believe what you want, but it worked. If either of you was smart enough to contact my owner and the time like Tony threatened to and tell him you were going to quit claiming the horses because of my calls than I probably would have lost my job. But instead, you both fell into the trap and took the horses I was sent to lose. And in turn, I have acquired new clients and new horses because of you. Again, I am not saying that at some times I was not pissed and reacted at the heat of the moment but 9 of 10 times my calls had a purpose.

To add to that, Tony told me one night and I quote as closely as I can remember, “I can’t tell this man anything. He is never happy. If we win 4 than he’s mad that we didn’t win 5. If we win 10 in week than we should have won 12. I hired Cole Norman so that I don’t have to listen to his shit anymore. If I lost my job today than I would be very relieved and move back to Canada.”
Does knowing your employees feel this kind of pressure, dissatisfaction and lack of appreciation make you feel like a man. Like you are so much better than them and everyone else.

You indirectly attack people. You threaten people. You treat people like they have no worth.
The jockeys that your trainer’s leg up to ride your horses are people to. People with families. People that sit at home and watch their father/husband lay motionless at the 1/4 pole and worry sick until they get the phone call that they are OK. If you can say you don’t allow your trainers to run sore horses and you can believe that you don’t put pressure on them to do so, than I truly hope that helps you sleep at night.

Mr. Gill, you are a horrible person. And believe me, I have never hated someone in my life as much as I hate you!! And can say that this sport would be better without you in it but also feel that this world would be better without you in it. That is not a threat, that is my heartfelt feeling!!!

Startin' Small Says:
January 27th, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Agent 99
Good post. Go ahead, give it a try…. you have not been watching if you think they are all doing so well. They lost money on the first 17 they took - FACT. Others that have taken them have not done all that well but I admit there are horses out there that are winning. Few at higher levels than they were claimed - FACT.
My clients breed and own horses hoping to race a good horse. When they don’t turn out and are inevitably going to be cheap than they move them on. NONE will nor will I race an unsound horse. A cheap horse simply is not economical OVER THE LONG TERM so we move them on while they are still marketable. The bills stop and the horses continue to race and win races. For the owner that is also the breeder, this is a WIN-WIN.
Heartless is the man that is patching them up for the lucrative purses and trying to prove to the IRS that he can turn a profit.
Full of hate… you are so right.
Heartless are also the people on this site that hide behind a fake moniker and attack people. Heartless is not the person who comments using their real name and/or public business name as I do.

Thanks for the reply.

MED Says:
January 28th, 2010 at 4:23 am

I have to say, Mr. Giliforte, that I’m absolutely reeling at your post 127. So you took horses to dump at Penn in the hopes Gill would claim them? How exactly does that make you ANY better?

I’m just a fan. I love the horses. I place my small bets and rejoice when I win a little and shrug off my losses as supporting youbet. I didn’t know who you were until Gill came on my radar and well, if you spoke out against him I thought you must be my kind of guy. Was I ever wrong. I can’t tell you how disappointed and disgusted I am.

Startin' Small Says:
January 28th, 2010 at 6:48 am

Twist it how ever you like. My clients are quite happy with the job I do for them and my horses get the best care possible.
Only sound horses are led over to race and anyone associated with me retires horses that need to be retired.
The best I can recollect since I started training, I have had 1-2 breakdowns in about 4,500 starts. And I am sure that I will have more as long as I train but rest assured that if I do, I will have a clear conscious that the horse went over to run in top shape and that it was 100 % accidental. The fact that it does happen is unfortunately a harsh reality of horse racing.
There was bound to be people that are PRO Mike Gill and that is fine and very fair but the people that are twisting people’s stories that can not substantiate what they say really shouldn’t say anything at all. It was very obvious that the PRO Gill people were going to attack the successful people in horse racing like Maggi, Asmussen, Englehart and so on to try to defend and justify their position but the truth of the matter is that you cannot pin the same misconduct on these people nor the same number of breakdowns and injured jockeys that this one man has been first hand related to.
I personally will not defend myself anymore on this site as “actions speak louder than words”. Anyone want to continue to have negative remarks for me, at least have the nerve to identify yourself as I have been open to who I am.


I'm not going to judge the comments. I'm going to be like Fox News. I report, you decide.

One more thing, I do have a problem with Maggi Moss being a spokesman as an advocate to remove Gill from the game.
When I think Moss, I think Asmussen, her main trainer, a trainer that races out of detention at Woodbine.....for a reason.

I don't think any trainer can be a Saint, and make it as a trainer. Some trainers are better non Saints than others.

25 January 2010

Penn's Jockeys Revolt Against Michael Gill

Penn Jockeys Refuse To Ride In Races Against Michael Gill Horses
Michael Gill owned horses are breaking down too much and jockeys at Penn National have voted to not race against his entrants. Of course, not only is the jockey who rides a Gill horse putting himself in extra danger, but other jockeys and horses are also at risk when a horse breaks down in a race.

It took Ray Paulick (Paulick Report) to break the story. Why not the DRF, Thoroughbred Times, or The Bloodhorse? Well, they are dependent on industry advertising, and a story like this could bring Eight Belles like attention to the sport; breeders and racing execs don't like this kind of stuff to get too much publicity.

"Jockeys at Penn National Race Course apparently took a vote of a different type on Saturday night, allegedly telling track management they would refuse to ride in any more races in which Mike Gill-owned horses were entered. The vote was taken following the fifth race, after third-place finisher Laughing Moon broke down past the wire.....It was the second breakdown of a Gill-owned horse at Penn National in three nights, Melodeeman having suffered a similar catastrophic injury on Thursday night. Melodeeman was trained by Anthony Adamo and Laughing Moon by Darrel Delahoussaye—Gill’s two trainers at Penn National...There was a lengthy delay between Saturday night’s fifth and sixth races as the jockeys stated their case. Eventually, a Gill horse, Justin M, was scratched from the sixth race, and the remainder of the card was completed without incident....According to Equibase charts, in just over three months, 14 other horses owned by Gill have either broken down, were pulled up, returned lame, or eased at Penn National. There were nine in October, three in November, one in December and two in January. (The count includes Saturday night’s incident involving Laughing Moon, even though the Equibase chartcaller did not report the horse broke down past the wire.)"

Here we have an industry that is trying to now guilt horseplayers into accepting artificial surfaces, yet it turns a blind eye to blocking horses, having horses treated outside of tracks just days or hours before they are entered on track, giving a slap on the wrist to many trainers who are unlucky enough to get caught violating drug laws.

We never hear about what is found when autopsies are completed. Are they testing for snake venom, snail venom, or the artificial knockoffs that are apparently being used by some trainers?

Until the industry starts getting tough, and I mean tough when it comes to these types of practices, I find it beyond hypocritical that they are making such an issue about plastic tracks for the safety of the horse and the jockey.

And one more thing. You can't blame the track vet when it comes to horses who are already blocked to feel little to no pain. Of course, most will jog fine and pass their inspection.
UDATE: DRF finally reported on the story. Gill was forced to fire trainer Darrel Delahoussaye in order to keep stalls at Penn.

Fort Erie To See Slot Reduction From Over 1,000 To Just 400 Machines

This is actually good news. Gambling on slots is almost 100% psychological. Atmosphere does play a major role to how long players play and even how often they come back. For years, the slot parlour at Fort Erie track has looked half empty at best. With the reduction, I can see the I idea of having to wait for a machine the odd time as something that will help create a false sense of enthusiasm. People think they are getting something special if other people want the same thing, and if they get something someone else wants.

If anyone has ever lined up to get into a club, the sensation of finally getting in can be an emotional high. And since slots are the crack cocaine of gambling, emotional highs are very important.

Being next to players also increases the chances that losers are next to those who make machines make all kinds of winning noises. This too is positive for the psychology of the slots player. It may get those who are losing, to stay a bit longer, because they know the machines are paying off to someone at least.

Apparently, the reduction of slots was part of the deal that saw the government guarantee over $1.5 million a year, than Fort Erie would have got from slots most likely this year and the next three as well.

Down The Stretch has its newest issue available online. Check out this article by Perry Lefko on Fort Erie: Long Live The Fort

Their headline story is 25 Ways To Save Harness Racing

I, of course, agree 1,000,000,000% with Eric Poteck: The #1 issue for horseplayers is the outrageously high takeout. It must be reduced for the game to be competitive.

Interesting that WEG Head Vizuzu in waiting, Nick Eaves, actually states that takeout on triactors need to be reduced. I guess its out of his hands or something:)

I totally disagree with Eaves that takeout should only be reduced on other bets for big players. It is the small player that isn't lasting long. Reduce the takeout, they last longer, and they are more inclined to become hooked and introduce horse racing to others in their households, their friends, neighbours, and workmates.

The biggest marketing tool horse racing has now is today's customer. Make them feel like they can win, and the game will grow.

Los Alamitos Update
In four days, Los Alamitos is down almost 20% week to week, and over 25% week to year. Check it out here. Note: They ran 8% less races this week than last week or last year. Still, this is an actual horseplayer's protest. Track takeout increase generally take months to create smaller handle just based on players having less to bet and players being turned off quicker from coming back because they find that winning harder to do (they usually don't know why though).

Los Alamitos announced they have shelved Thursday racing until further notice.

Horse racing is the only business on this planet that thinks they can make money when demand is down by RAISING prices (takeout). Economics 101 begs to differ.

Things Looking Bright Again For Racing In Belleville

HORSEPLAYERSBET.COM Has An Offer That Is Hard To Refuse If You Intend To Play Dubai

Racing from Dubai begins on January 28th. There are going to be ten cards culminating with the Dubai World Cup March 27th

22 January 2010

Los Alamitos Handle Down 25% First Night After Takeout Hike

Last night, handle at Los Alamitos was $577,000. Compared with last Thursday night, which saw $767,000 bet, handle was off by 25%. Yesterday was the first night in which the new 2% takeout hike on all wagers was implemented.

The weather may have contributed a little, but out of state wagering on Los Alamitos was off $120,000 (26%). This has nothing to do with weather, and all to do with player protests. Price sensitive players especially saw their potential profits drop, and those receiving rebates saw the net takeout rise on Los Al, which means that other tracks that don't increase track signal fees, look more attractive.

Had we seen a takeout increase that was not publicized, we would have seen very little change last night. That being said, had it not been publicized, over a few months we would see handle drop off because players would not have as much to play with.

Prior to HANA's (Horseplayers Association of North America) inception, Calder raised takeout in April 2008 with little publicity. I did pick up the news and wrote "Calder Raises Takeout: What Imbeciles."

So what has happened to Calder since?

Calder's handle 2007 $490 Million (172 Dates)
2008 $378 Million (160 Dates)
2009 $334 Million (152 Dates)

In today's climate, the takeout increase will affect the Los Al regulars the most and contribute to bettors playing less, where some may take bigger breaks from the game and again.

I stress this, when they are not playing, there is no likelihood they will bring others out with them and that they will not expose others to the game period. This hurts short term handle and long term growth as well. This is what happens when you move away from optimum takeout rate (which according to studies is 12% or lower).

I do think that HANA has made takeout a big issue to players who may have not been cognizant of it a year or two ago, so more people are getting it.

Gamblers are always looking for excuses why they don't win. They blame themselves for making wrong decisions, they blame the ride, they blame drugs, disqualification which are all valid, but all the above would be a lot easier to overcome if takeout were reduced.

Players generally don't say they are losing because of the takeout, because that would mean that they should question why they are betting horses in the first place.

Before last night's slaughter, Los Alamitos track owner, Ed Allred, was quoted as saying "This is something that's alien to my thinking," said Allred, a noted bettor and horse owner. "This is a sad thing for me to do......If this is a disaster, I'll be the first one to change it," Allred said. "The night simulcasting is hurting."

I feel sorry for Allred, however if a track is hurting to begin with, it needs to try to lower takeout. Perhaps this experiment will teach track owners and execs a lesson in Economics 101.

It should be noted that new Chairman, Keith Brackpool, of the CHRB, was the only person who voted against the takeout hike (which passed in a 6-1 vote). Unfortunately his vote was worth as much as Bo Derek's vote.

In a recent interview he said, "It's a slippery slope, I don't like it."

I think it is important to note that yesterday's protest was not a protest against the takeout rate (Los Alamitos' rate is still lower than many other tracks out there), but a protest against the hike, and it was not intended to be a one day event. Time will tell if it was a knee jerk reaction by angry players, or if they will keep it going until the takeout change is reversed.

It would be great if it is the latter. It is about time that horseplayers got together and said WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE:

To join HANA, sign up here, it is free to do so, and the more members HANA has the more HANA will have a seat at the table going forward.

Interesting observation regarding Tracknet and their attempts to increase rates that tracks and ADWs pay for their product.

There could be a shift going on amongst price sensitive players from Tracknet tracks to non Tracknet tracks, because non Tracknet tracks allow the player's bottom line takeout rate to be much lower in many cases. They are feeling the squeeze, and other options are readily available.

I've noticed that Tracknet tracks are not doing so well of late when it comes to handle. For example, Fairgrounds all source handle was down 31% in November and 28% in December.
Much of the blame has to do with the fact that the Mid Atlantic Cooperative's refusal to sign a deal with Tracknet mainly because Tracknet wants to increase the fees it charges for its tracks.

In the meantime, horseplayers are learning that other race tracks do exist, and their signals are available almost everywhere. Tracks like Tampa Bay Downs, which reduced takeout on a few bets this year, have been benefiting from this and the fact that it looks like the horseplayer has finally woke up.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months.

UPDATE: A couple hours after I posted this, Tracknet and the Mid Atlantic Cooperative have come to an agreement. It is hush hush as to who caved.

19 January 2010

Los Alamitos Ups Takeout Rate; HANA Not Pleased

In a new world where it is more than apparent that high takeout kills growth and leads to date cuts and lower purses, the CHRB in its infinite wisdom, voted to increase track takeout on all bets by 2%. The takeout increase goes into affect on January 21st.

HANA (Horseplayers Association Of North America) President Jeff Platt was at the meeting and offered this gem:

"Bo Derek and I got into a brief argument where she said that even after the takeout increase, prize payouts (takeout) would still be more favorable for the player at Los Al than slots or blackjack prize payouts at a local casino. I corrected her saying that WPS takeout after the increase would be 18% returning 82 cents for every dollar wagered vs a slots return of 91-92 cents per every dollar wagered. She told me I was wrong. It was only after John Harris corrected her that she shut up."

Jeff, of course is correct. Shouldn't those who vote on such issues as takeout hikes at least have basic knowledge of competitive takeout rates?

Looks like the gloves are off. HANA has circulated a letter written for Jeff Platt by another HANA member to its membership (which is at around 1500):

An Open Letter to Los Alamitos Horseplayers

Last week HANA Pres Jeff Platt spoke at a CHRB meeting in opposition to a proposed 2% takeout increase at Los Alamitos. The CHRB Board, despite the evidence presented that an increase in takeout rates would have a negative impact on handle and revenues, decided to institute the raise. They also included a review process, where by the CHRB would from time to time review Los Alamitos handle numbers between now and Sept 8th, 2010, in order to monitor the effect of this takeout increase on handle.

If the handle numbers come back weak, and show that horseplayers are reacting negatively to this takeout increase, there is a high likelihood it will be rescinded. If the handle numbers come back unchanged, there is a high likelihood the takeout increase will be made permanent. It is also likely, in our opinion, that if Los Alamitos handle is strong, that other California tracks will follow suit with takeout raises of their own. We know this would have a very negative effect on you, as a horseplayer, and in return on California Racing as a whole.

You, as a Los Alamitos bettor, have a very big say in all of this. Each dollar bet at Los Alamitos is a vote for making the takeout increase permanent, and a vote towards seeing higher takeouts across California. Each dollar withheld from Los Alamitos is a vote towards rescinding this takeout increase, and discrediting the notion that racing's revenue problems can be solved by simply raising the price of an already overpriced product. You are in the enviable position to have a direct and measurable impact on the future of California racing, and to make a statement on behalf of horseplayers everywhere.

We ask you to consider these facts, and we trust that your actions and decisions will help to bring about a better and brighter future for this game.

Please pass this message on to fellow horseplayers everywhere.

Jeff Platt

President, HANA

To join HANA (it is free), click here.

Woodbine Entertainment Shuns Flamboro Downs For Louisiana Downs.
Business over long term growth has been Woodbine's MO for quite some time. In order to grow the game in Ontario, Ontario content is a must. It gets owners, co-owners, families of owners and other horsemen involved. If you show local racing, you might plant a seed in someone who will eventually either become a medium to big bettor and/or a new owner.
But the reality is that Woodbine has bigger and better handle on some American tracks, so they are now getting preference on HPITV.
I wonder if home market comes into play too. I'm pretty sure that Woodbine doesn't make as much from someone betting in Flamboro's home market no matter what track they bet on versus someone betting from the Woodbine home market. And they probably make more money if their home market player bets on a US track over another track in Canada that they have to pay a bigger split to.
If this is true, we might be seeing less and less Canadian content, with the exception of Woodbine and Mohawk.
I wonder if Fort Erie is a candidate to get bumped in the summer. Time will tell.

Woodbine would love Woodbine and Mohawk to be the only tracks in Ontario. Slot revenues are standing in their way though. But they might do everything in their power to make it happen just the same.

I wonder how many Youbet customers got this notice

I meant to post this awhile ago. Keeneland Library has a project going on to try to save the Daily Racing Form archives. Watch this:

They still have a ways to go but they do have quite a few Racing Forms archived already. Check it out.

Oh yeah, if you watch sports new on TV you may have missed it, Rachel Alexandra beat Zenyatta out as horse of the year. I was wrong again. This means the odds are with me next time? See what happens when you read too much Bo Derek.

A quote from a friend of mine regarding the coverage of HOY:

"I watch Sports Center two times a day. An hour in the morning when I am on my treadmill or stationary bike and an hour at night when I go bed.

Yesterday was one of the racing industries biggest days as far as the press is concerned. It was horse racing's Oscars, its Golden Globe, horse racing's awards night. In the 60 minutes this morning it received 8 seconds of time when they announced in passing the Horse of the year. That was it – less than 10 seconds. A snowboarder who was scheduled to be in the Olympics had more air time because he crashed his three wheeler and was now out of the games."

13 January 2010

Time For Horse Racing Industry To Put Up Video Archives

Partymanners Youtube account suspended
Most racing enthusiasts know by now that Partymanners recently had his Youtube account suspended.

Over 1500 videos of historical stake races are no longer accessible to the general public. Why? It appears that some egotistical maniac had a hissy fit sent Youtube a false claim that at least some of the videos were owned by him. Of course, this is not the case. These videos belong to the racetracks, and as far as I know, most if not every racetrack has to be aware of Partymanners Youtube channel for quite a while, and obviously had no problem with what he was doing. This channel definitely was free advertising for horse racing in general, and I think racing execs would be foolish if they filled out a form crying copyright infringement.

Partymanners has issued a counter claim, which will probably win out if the other guy can't prove he has the copyright to the videos. I'm pretty sure at least the first move by Youtube was simply an automated response. It is actually illegal to claim that you own the rights to a video you don't own the rights to.

This situation has now started to get many horse racing fans to ask why is it that a fan (Partymanners) of all people had to be responsible for bringing great historical races to the general public and not anyone directly involved in the horse racing industry? There is obviously demand for these old races, but the horse racing industry seems to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Many tracks now are putting up racing videos on a Youtube site. This is a good start. Woodbine just began doing this a few months ago. It would be nice if Woodbine could take the time and add old stake races to their channel. I'd love to be able to see races that featured horses like Momigi, Tiny Tinker, and Northern Dancer (I wonder if anyone has a video of Northern Dancer's maiden win at Fort Erie in 1963).

Going forward R2Collective gives a very good assessment of the current situation and a some good ideas for the future regarding race replays and with respect to its relationship with the internet in general.

Bill Finley's newest article: A look at 2010, through a crystal ball
Horse racing satire at its finest.
Here is a taste:

July: NYRA is able to re-open after Jess Jackson lends the struggling racing organization $50 million in return for them renaming the Travers the Plastic Tracks Suck Stakes. New York racing resumes with opening day at Saratoga.

It is at least on par with my last April Fool's Day post.

Speaking of Stronach
Doesn't it rub most people the wrong way that Frank Stronach was able to have a deal cut where he still winds up with Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park and Golden Gate Fields?, despite the fact that Magna Entertainment shareholders got totally screwed as did unsecured creditors. He proved he can't run a race track, never mind many racetracks. His vision of horse racing was completely out of touch with reality and those who believed in him got the shaft.

And this just feels so not so right: Adena Springs buy Miss Isella for over a million bucks. I guess life goes on for Stronach, and he must have got out of the Magna Entertainment mess OK. Maybe Bernie Madoff should have used his legal team.

Support From Horseplayers Wanted

CHRB Meeting this Friday - Let your thoughts be known via email

This Friday there is a CHRB meeting in California. One of the items on the agenda is the following:

"Discussion and action by the Board regarding an increase in the take-out on conventional and exotic wagers on races conducted by quarter horse racing associations as permitted pursuant to Assembly Bill 246 (Price), Chapter 226, Statutes of 2009."

We believe that any takeout increase, for any wagering is not a good thing in, as takeout increases have been proven time and time again to lower handle, and lower interest on horse racing. Jeff Platt, HANA President will be at the meeting and they have allowed him to speak on some of the studies which show takeout increases hurt, don't help racing.

If you agree and want your voice heard we need your help. if you cut the following and place it in your emailer.

Send it to "BonS@chrb.ca.gov"

You will be registering your displeasure with takeout increases.

Please use this in the subject header: "Please say no to any takeout increases"

Shameless self promotion: Someone who read my last blog piece had a lot of good things to say about it on a Harness Racing Forum.

If you missed the jockey fight during a race at Philly Park, check out Thoroughbred Chat. The Partymanners Youtube debacle is also touched upon.



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5 January 2010

If You Want Horse Racing To Grow You Need To Market Winning Horseplayers

R2Racing has a very good post up "Positioning Racing Perhaps For The First Time." The author of the post asks racing to try top down marketing with a simple message: "Horse racing is a game ……. and you will have the time of your life playing it."

I agree with the main points being made in the article, but the reality is that marketing horse racing will not work to attract a substantial amount of new horseplayers until there is a real reason for players to flock to the game.

Horse racing is a thinking persons game, and this fact is something that can be used as part of the marketing campaign. However other thinking games exist, and they don't cost nearly as much when it comes to giving the thinker the opportunity for victory. I don't know for sure, but I get the same euphoric fix winning a poker hand on the last card, as I do winning a Fantasy Football league, as I do catching an exactor at Tampa Bay Downs. I even get a feeling of satisfaction playing free games on the internet, where winning means just winning and has no financial rewards whatsoever.

Horse racing needs winning horseplayers, and it needs to market them along with the new reality (hopefully) that the game can be beaten with a combination of luck and skill.

This type of marketing scheme has been proven very successful in growing online poker and Betfair. Every young person wants to be that online poker player who wound up moving out of their parent's basement and into a mansion, thanks to being one of the best. And what young person wouldn't want to gamble successfully for a living?

Of course, there have been a lot more losers created by this form of marketing but that is the growth component, something dreadfully lacking in horse racing today. But as long as the carrot is there dangling in front of the player, where perhaps just a little more patience, knowledge and luck can turn a loser into a winner, the player's entertainment needs become fulfilled as an offshoot, and there is nothing wrong with horse racing getting more of the public's entertainment dollars.

The main deterrent to growth is undeniably the track takeout. For the horseplayer, the game has become much more difficult to beat than ever before (and it was hardly a game that could be beat in the past either, though there was a shot).

A Quick History
From the 1930's to the 1960's horse racing was much more mainstream. In many instances, it was the only place one could legally bet outside of Las Vegas. It was part of the cinema and then TV. Many movies and TV shows had references or were about about horse racing. Not that it was all a rosy portrayal, it was a mixture of either/or larceny and getting wealthy (with luck and knowledge).

Stands were packed. The main reasons being, it was the only game in town, it was inexpensive to play (there were only 8 races, and few if any exotics, so players were very likely to leave with cash in their pockets, enough to play the next day, and many left the track with more money than they came in with, even a couple of times a week sometimes), and there was a carrot: The game was perceived to be beatable. There was the legend of Pittsburgh Phil and others, along with the idea that inside info could actually help one make a huge score (a $2500 score in the 60's could get one enough money for the down payment on a home that today is worth $400,000).

By the late 60's to the early 80's handicapping books became popular. Real life stories like Andrew Beyer's My $50,000 Year At That Races, and new books based on empirical statistics like William Quirin's Winning At The Races became must reads for anyone serious enough to try to beat the game. Nowadays if Beyer's were to put out a book about actually winning, it would have to be called, My $50,000 Year At The Races After Receiving $100,000 In Rebates, and Quirin's book would have to be renamed Breaking Even At The Races If You Are Exceptionally Lucky.

Here is a telling quote from Richard Eng's book Horse Racing For Dummies: "Here's the skinny on getting shut out; in the long run, you save money." The statement is very true, more true today than it was in the 70's. You can't make that statement if you have even a chance to win long term.

So what happened? When did the possibility to win all but vanish? It really didn't take all that long, and it was mainly due to competition. First from lotteries starting in the 70's, and then slots and casinos in the 90's. Horse racing didn't even try to compete or lose their culture of entitlement perspective. In Toronto, the Blue Jays hurt Woodbine and Greenwood a lot in the mid to late 70's.

Most businesses can identify their customers and do everything they can to attract them. Not horse racing. Their customers it seems has always been execs and horsemen. Their customers of course, are the horseplayers. When business gets slower due to competition, the first thing a business does to attract customers, is LOWER PRICING. That is Economics 101.

In fact, pricing started to go up, because racetracks in their infinite wisdom started to increase the wagering types offered every race at much higher takeout rates in most cases. Sure, existing players wanted a chance at bigger scores, and what did they care about takeout? Most players, even today have no clue about how it affects them.

But it does affect them. The game got too expensive to play every day. More players went home broke more often, they spent less time handicapping and watching races, or taking their families to the track (growth potential was dead). They stopped looking forward to the next day of racing. And most importantly, they started to figure out that the game was not beatable by anyone they knew.

This wasn't all. Back in the 70's, maybe one in four at the track bought a Racing Form. The pools were filled with lots of dumb money, players just picking names and numbers off the program, or betting the favorite because it was favorite. Competition took care of these people who lost very quickly at the track and were willing and eager to waste their dough on lotteries and then lotteries and slots.

And if the higher collective takeout rate wasn't enough, horseplayers by the late 80's were now being seduced by having other tracks available to them. All this really did, was make it so the existing bettor could lose their money even faster than before. It didn't create new money to be lost. It had the opposite affect, as more people than ever before became discouraged, even if they didn't know the exact reason (which was a higher collective takeout and more available races each day which made it very probable that players would go home broke). They stopped bringing their friends and family and they talked less and less about horse racing.

And then the biggest kick in the groin for bettors who were either beating the game or coming close came right around 1990. Beyer figures showed up in the Racing Form, virtually taking away one of the most profitable and consistent angles in horse racing (speed handicapping using track variants). The playing field was equaled, and horses who ran 1:12 on a dead track running against horse who ran 1:10:0 on a fast track would now pay $8 instead of $15 to win.

Finally though, opportunity came along which caused some growth (but could have caused enormous growth), and that was phone and internet betting. Now, horseplayers could bet races from their home or work. For awhile, existing horseplayers could now play countless races as day without traveling up to 50 miles or more to go to a track.

It did add more money from existing players for at least the short run, but it didn't create more players, or at least not very many.

If they would have had a 10% takeout along with phone betting and internet betting, horse racing would have exploded like Betfair and online poker did.

There is just no incentive for new players to start betting horses today. First, almost every bettor looks at some sort of past performances, speed figures, or has a computer program that spews out all this information. The dumb money is bye bye. Now it is good thinkers versus great thinkers. And for what? The ability to pretty much guarantee that you will lose, and lose a lot if you play a lot.

Secondly, it takes years to learn the nuances of the game, from trainers to jockeys to what speed figures mean, etc. Nobody learns how to read a Racing Form in a short period of time.

So how can racing grow, or is it just going to stay flat or die? That is up to the racing industry. Right now, winners do exist, but the industry treats them like should be in an undisclosed bunker somewhere in Area 51. Why? Because these are the players who receive rebates. You know rebate? That ugly word that racing execs don't want the masses to know about.

If you bet enough money and you start asking the right people enough questions, you could get the average takeout reduced to something like 10 or 12%, and sometimes even less.

So do rebates create more players? Yes and no. They can bring back players who were betting offshore and not in actual pools, and they allow horseplayers to last longer which might get family members and friends involved but not to a great extent because newbies don't normally get rebates. Rebates probably have stopped many players from throwing in the towel too. But horse racing will not publish the fact that the only significant winners these days receive rebates, because that would mean they would have to admit their game is vastly overpriced.

Another reason why rebates is a dirty word is because of horsemen who collectively live for the short term. It is not just the racing execs to blame here. The horsemen, instead of embracing the idea that winning horseplayers are needed for growth, whine that if there is their is money left over to rebate, their track is selling the signal fee too low. And guess what? Today, signal fees are on the rise and what that means is that there is less money left to rebate. So racing is starting to kill the only potential growth component they have.

Remember, by giving less rebates, the player getting them will become disenchanted quicker. Horse racing will begin to lose their biggest bettors, and again, this will not create new players, it will just cause the pie to shrink even further.

OK, so rebates most likely won't get embraced. What is left?

The only way to grow racing is to create winners that racing can talk about, and that will only happen if takeout rates are cut to 10-12% everywhere. Smaller takeout cuts will create some growth (anytime players last longer they will expose the game to more people), but if racing wants significant growth they need a few winners who are out there in everyone's face.

At 10-12% players will last. The longer they play the more likely they are to expose newbies to horse racing. By lasting longer they will end the day or week with hope (even though it might be the delusional hope for most that slot players have). Most will lose more than they already lose today, but the winners will be the carrot stick racing is sorely lacking today.

You can take all the technological advances and throw them down the drain. Without incentive to play (and horse racing makes its money from GAMBLING and it needs to attract more GAMBLERS) horse racing is simply spending techno dollars just to try to keep their existing customers happy, it causes zero growth, in fact, innovation makes it easier for existing customers to lose quicker, so I could easily argue that the way technology is being used in horse racing today, is actually creating negative growth, as existing players become discouraged faster.

The industry needs to get their collective head out of the sand and they need to stop pretending that there are other issues which are hindering growth. Once takeout is reduced, the other issues will be forced to correct themselves as well because there will be a huge horseplayer base demanding it. Wouldn't that be wonderful?